|Hollywood, FL – 6'1", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#46 S, #105 FL
|24/7||3*, #1326 overall
#90 S, #175 FL
|Other Suitors||Miami, USF, Louisville, CU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Teammate of Metellus and Bush.|
If you're the kind of obsessive who has a detailed impression of every recruit in Michigan's 28-man class, you probably think Devin Gil is transitioning from safety to linebacker once he arrives on campus. This was your obsessive author's impression, at least. It is also Don Brown's:
Devin played safety in high school but we project him to be an outside linebacker. Again, he's one of those guys with a unique set of skills and should also be a good pass rusher and blitzer. Settling him into one of those outside linebacker spots will be a big asset to us.
That impression turns out to be false. Gil has already made that transition. The senior highlight film above is one safety highlight to open and then all MLB. Gil was named to the Florida 8A All-State first team as a middle linebacker. By the time Gil took his official visit he was fully expecting to be a linebacker and had already reached 225. He is a linebacker, and he'll play linebacker. Linebacker.
Most recruiting services projected this was his destiny, but few checked back to see how they liked him after his senior year. Let's start with Scout, the lone service to rank him at his college position. Florida analyst Corey Bender:
…fierce when attacking downhill and pursuing the football. … active hands when taking on blocks. He's strong at the point of attack and even put a couple of blockers on their backside as well.
ESPN evaluates him as a safety but does mention his "linebacker mentality" and projects him as a box guy or OLB, so it's probably based off junior tape and not updated seriously since. Here are a few bits that seem relevant:
Physical defender who can disrupt and reroute. Does not show effective man coverage skills at this time. … will get after the ball carrier with a strong, physical presence. He can absorb blocks and shed in the box and looks very capable of being a box defender. He looks to intimidate his opponent with a little nasty in him. … Likes to hit, strong wrap up guy … good line of scrimmage player, can defend the flat and hook/curl zones and has the physical make-up to match-up with TEs/H-Backs.
Various Rivals evals are in a similar vein. This one is refreshingly blunt:
…had his share of both impressive moments and lapses on Saturday but the lateral quickness was on display. As was his ability to quickly change directions. Gil isn't going to win many track meets but the Miami commit has plenty of raw talent.
Other evaluations showcase the main reason to hope he defies recruiting expectations. He's a spread linebacker for spread times.
Gil showed a knack for covering smaller targets downfield. Gil recovers well for a linebacker and can change direction quickly for a prospect with solid size.
…added some bulk during the offseason but hasn't lost the quickness that allows him to run with most running backs and tight ends in space. During pass coverage drills he not only won reps, but came away with the ball on multiple occasions, including a one-handed highlight-reel interception.
…and then he was more or less forgotten about. It is possible he is LB/S diamond in the rough.
Gil is an OLB sort with good hands who can sift through trash and take on screens and the like. He's not that big and not that athletic and it's unclear whether he can cope with the upgraded competition level. I found this report from SBN's Miami blog to be uncommonly real:
One recruiting analyst I talked to said flatly "Devin Gil CANNOT play at Miami". A different recruiting analyst said "this is exactly the kind of hybrid player who will help take your defense to the next level."
That's where I am too. I like the fact that Michigan is taking a high school LB/S as an OLB; he may be able to hack it as a hybrid space player. But I cock an eyebrow when a highlight reel four minutes in length includes filler like fumbles that bounce directly to the subject and pursuit on which he cleans up a play someone else made. Gil's senior film above has a lot of that. It doesn't exactly jump out at you.
Gil's recruitment doesn't defy that tape, either. It was a lot like Josh Uche's: it began with a very early commitment to Miami and ended with a decommit and subsequent trip to Ann Arbor. Uche, who we'll cover next, was pursued by some heavy hitters. Gil not so much. Maybe that's an artifact of his quick switch from Miami to M; these days it's hard not to interpret that as disinterest from the school of sharks hovering below any P5-ish recruit.
The main way Gil defies the rankings—he's the lowest-ranked guy in the class per the composite—is by adding a bunch of weight and keeping his athleticism, which appears to be "not quite P5 safety but plenty good as a linebacker." It seems like he's started this process already.
Etc.: Devins love bucket hats. Seems like a very cheery dude, in the vein of Denard.
Why Denicos Allen? It's difficult to dig up HSPs in Michigan history because Lloyd Carr was so slow to adapt to the spread. There are few analogues for LB/S types at M. MSU has a number of them, though, and Denicos Allen is a relatively good comp. Allen is undersized at 5'11", 220. He was unheralded coming out of Hamilton HS in Ohio, and took a couple years of apprenticeship once arriving in East Lansing.
Afterwards he ended up a blitzing murderbot as an MSU SAM. The NFL didn't think much of him, but he was still a terrific college player and TFL magnet. Gil will have to hit big time to be the equivalent; Allen is a pretty good approximation of who he might be if he rolls double sixes.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. They obviously weren't paying close attention, but high profile guy on high profile team with thoroughly meh recruiting rankings does mean something.
Variance: Moderate. LB transition already underway and is a lot closer to plausible size at 225, but still kind of a situation where he's moving to a new position in college.
Ceiling: Moderate. Atheticism questions are likely to prevent him from being big time.
General Excitement Level: Not great. Gil didn't have many offers other than a flailing Miami program and M; he did hit some camps; he isn't a sleeper or unknown. All players can defy their rankings. I'm not seeing a ton of reasons why Gil will defy his.
Projection: 50/50 on a redshirt. The LB corps isn't much different from the secondary: both project to lose a lot to graduation and the draft, so some guys are going to see the field in preparation for 2017. Gil is a special-teams-ready guy who could be a competitor at a couple LB slots in 2017 and thus could play. He could also sit because he's not ready yet.
In 2017 and beyond he's going to have to fight through a lot of competition. At ILB, former teammate Bush is probably ahead of him. At SAM/HSP he's got to deal with Hudson and Uche and maybe Furbush, etc. It'll be an uphill battle for playing time as an underclassman. Projecting further down the road is tough since we have no clarity on what kind of guys get ahead in a Don Brown world; I'd be a little surprised if he could push through the competition to start.